Towards a Phenomenological Ontology: Synthetic A Priori Reasoning and the Cosmological Anthropic Principle

Journal of Mind and Behavior 43 (1):1-24 (2022)
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The purpose of this paper is to analyze the theoretical commitments of autopoietic enactivism in relation to Errol E Harris’s dialectical holism in the interest of establishing a common metaphysical ground. This will be undertaken in three stages. First, it is argued that Harris’s reasoning provides a means of developing enactivist ontology beyond discussions limited to cognitive science and into domains of metaphysics that have traditionally been avoided by phenomenologists. Here, I maintain enactivist commitments are consistent with Harris’s reasoning from certain synthetic a priori first principles, to his derivation of a teleological anthropic principle, which asserts the necessity of consciousness within the cosmos. Second, it is proposed that Steven Rosen’s long-standing proposal for a topology of phenomenology may provide a common logical foundation for both Harris and enactivists regarding anthropic reasoning. Third, it is argued that a pragmatic approach to process ontology is the most rigorous way of responding to the realism/anti-realism concerns that inevitably follow. If successful, this work will update Harris’s arguments with contemporary scientific and philosophical terminology and extend enactivism from philosophy of mind, into a general phenomenological ontology.

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James Schofield
Bentley University


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